Ripples #911: Meaningful Action!

Ripples #911: Meaningful Action!
Nov 7, 2016


The world around me, my circumstances, my situation-they don’t define me. My actions, what I choose to do about it all-that’s what defines me.
-written and shared by Andrea C. Ruiz in Olympia, WA


I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.
—Leo Rosten, via


As I’ve zipped around to fire up folks over the last few weeks (a quick shout out to Gateway Tech, ACUI-Region V, Procter & Gamble, JM Smucker, University of Nebraska, Oregon State, SWACUHO, and Chadron State College), several of the presentations I’ve given have revolved around wellness and well-being. While preparing for the talks, I stumbled upon several studies that suggest happiness, while something that almost everyone wants, is more elusive when framed as a GOAL to be achieved, and more attainable when it is a BYPRODUCT of pursuing a meaningful life.

TRYING to be happy can be tricky since happiness is a transient state; even the happiest people I know aren’t happy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It can also feel a little self-serving to focus solely on our own happiness. Those who dive into their passions at work, home and/or in the community, often end up experiencing happiness as a side effect of their achievements, especially if they’ve contributed something larger than themselves.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but if you want more happiness in your life, there’s ample evidence to support this advice: stop looking for happiness! Instead, seek out activities that create meaning for you at work, in school, and at home. The more minutes you spend engaged on projects that seem significant and/or worthwhile, the more likely you are to experience life as satisfying and/or enjoyable.

The Ripples Guy
p.s. You know there is one extra special and super meaningful action that is really important to achieve this week, right? Don’t forget to VOTE!

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